Some years ago I published a paper on Quarter Degree Grid Cells in the African Journal of Ecology. Quarter Degree Grid Cells (QDGC or QDS – Quarter degree Squares) is a way of dividing the longitude latitude degree square cells into smaller squares, forming in effect a system of geocodes. Historically QDGC has been used in a many African atlases.

I have now revised the files and made one export per country in the world. It is a lot of data and I am hesitant to keep it on my website. The file format is ESRI shapefiles.

I am considering using GitHub as a means of distributing the files. I keep the related code in a repository there. But the limit for a repository there is around 1 Gb and the files as a total easily gets to that size.

Users will usually need a national level data set, so it makes sense to keep the files in separate national folders. They could also be individually zipped down.

It should be easy for me to upload the files and to some extent also version them.

Where could/should I deposit such files? Is BitHub a relevant alternative? Where else?

  • What format(s) are you wanting to host? – Mapperz Jul 9 '13 at 14:52
  • Shapefiles. Added detail in original posting. – ragnvald Jul 9 '13 at 14:57
  • What information is contained in these "exports"? Is there anything besides the cell shapes? – whuber Jul 9 '13 at 15:31
  • Calculated area and QDGC reference string. – ragnvald Jul 9 '13 at 16:51
  • Let's see: 180 by 360 degrees / (1/4)^2 = about one million shapes, each requiring only four vertices (eight double-precision coordinates) plus an area and a string. That's about 100 bytes per shape, for a total of 100 MB (assuming you cover all the oceans--land would only need about 35 MB). How do you achieve 1 GB, then? Are your reference strings about 1 - 3 KB each? – whuber Jul 9 '13 at 17:59

You could host your data in one of several places. The more places hosting it the less likely it will disappear?

  • As it is an ESRI file format why not consider ArcGIS.com as a repository.
  • I've found DIVA-GIS to be useful, may be they will host it for you?
  • The long standing geocomm website may host it for you?
  • May be openstreetmap?

Issues to consider for storing data:

  • It makes sense to keep one data set stored on one site.
  • Keep the data stored in such a way that it can be versioned and easily updated.
  • Stay away from product related storages like ESRI or DIVA-GIS. We can rely on standards being here in some years time. Companies - probably not.
  • Datasets should have an adress which will remain the same over years


  • No statistics
  • Limited size

Aazon S3

  • Costs money
  • Low price
  • Allows for Torrents for files smaller than 5 Gb.
  • I thought GitHub was a place more for tools and applications rather than datasets? I have to admit its not the first place I would go looking for GIS data but then as you say its vendor neutral. – Hornbydd Aug 5 '13 at 18:49
  • A question to other GIS professionals: do you use GitHub to search and\or store GIS data, just curious? – Hornbydd Aug 5 '13 at 18:56
  • I have placed the tools there, as well as the resulting files. (github.com/ragnvald/qdgc) Not the ideal solution, and I am still looking for a vendor neutral long term storage facility. I might just store it on my own server, but would rather have it different. – ragnvald Aug 16 '13 at 8:21

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